This extends back to about six or seven years ago when I first wrote to our then MP Steve Ladyman about Pleasurama and goes up to today. Does it make any difference? Well I don’t really know to be honest.
In recent times I have been very careful to keep the individuals names out of what I say and as pretty much everything I post comes from more than one source, or falls into the bracket of I have seen it myself or have the relevant official documentation, I don’t think I have as it were dropped any individual in it. I think this is important for several reasons not the least of which is that people would stop telling me things. Of course I still get the odd irate email from people saying something along the lines, I told you such and such a thing and you published it, sometimes I have to do a certain amount of smoothing.
What I still find amazing is that so many people involved in these organisations genuinely seem to think that keeping the public informed about what is going on isn’t a very good idea. There is a sort of culture of we know best, as though public savants have forgotten that that is what they are, paid to serve the public and elected representatives, elected to represent the public.
Now for the most part here in Ramsgate local government is carried out from offices in Margate by council officers and a working local Conservative majority and very few of the individuals concerned have any real up to date understanding of Ramsgate and its problems.
Twice in the last week, for instance I have been told by people supposedly governing us to put a particular problem to Ramsgate Town Partnership, an organisation that doesn’t exist any more.
Other people in Ramsgate have at different times tried to get some sort of realistic representation for the town at local government level, various organisations have been formed in the town, but seem to be pretty much ignored, collectively or individually.
The people of Ramsgate even went to the extent of voting to pay extra money for a town council and my impression is that this was done mainly so that there was an elected body to represent Ramsgate’s interests.
Now I am getting an increasing amount of information from people involved in this to the effect that this organisation is both ignored and sidelined by the district council.
I think the problem here is that the district council works entirely to a series of rules, these rules seem to have very little to do with the wishes of the local community, or for that matter even basic common sense.
A prime example of this is the attitude relating to the Pleasurama flood risk assessment, it is no good saying to either council officers or cabinet members that even the experts at the environment agency say that there is a likelihood that the thousand or more people in the new development may be killed or injured when there is a mixture of a high tide and a storm.
The only answer you get is that all of the rules have been adhered to and the council’s consent to build a potentially dangerous design is valid because of this.
However this then raises the difficult problem of just what does one do when it is obvious that the council are doing something wrong, stupid or even dangerous?
None of the checks and balances seem to be particularly effective, freedom of information legislation seems to only really result in the council releasing such information as they wish to, it may be that eventually after pursuing a request for a document that they don’t with to release that eventually one gets it. I made a request for one such document back in October and it is still going through the various processes.
Same with the complaints procedure I made one of these back in November and am still awaiting a result, I have to admit that once in the past I went all the way through the complaints procedure and managed to successfully get the environment agency’s report saying that the Pleasurama development needed a flood risk assessment to be safe.
Of course even after all of this no one can actually enforce this, so my time all of the officers time, the ombudsman’s time, the environment officer’s time and all of the associated money was, I suppose I have to admit, wasted.
One similar such problem came up today and this was from residents of Granville marina, this is the group of residences that are under the Victorian viaduct something that I have tried to get a weight limit imposed on. I understand that a heavy construction vehicle involved in the continuing renovation work on 1 Granville Marina went along this viaduct this week causing the whole structure to vibrate and alarming the people living in it considerably.
Asking the driver about the weight of the vehicle involved, the answer was unladen 22 tons laden you just wouldn’t want to know.
This raises the difficult question, what does one do about this sort of thing? Waiting until it collapses and saying, I told you so seems to be about the only option, has anyone got any other ideas?
Oh well some pictures from the last couple of days, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/710/id5.htm and the one above of the beach hut isolated, half way up the harbour wall also above, I thought it looke even funnier taken from the distance.